Ten year old Areej Al-Rahy writes about her suffering during the recent war in Gaza and how she is coming to terms with life after the conflict. Like many other children in Gaza, Areej has been left traumatized by what she experienced. She is now one of 40,000 children receiving psychosocial support as part of an Islamic Relief project.
"On my first day with Islamic Relief all the children in the session shared their stories about the war. I remember there were difficult moments. Nobody expected it to happen. My dad, who always gives me love and hope, was not able to protect the family.
"During the war, everything was targeted including houses, schools and people. My family and I were at home, then suddenly, we became scared when an Israeli plane targeted a nearby home.
"I know that the Aldaya family home was totally destroyed. Inside the house were children, women and old people. One of the girls killed was my classmate. She was clever.
"I still wonder why"
"My dad was the only source of strength for me. He used to protect me. I won’t forget his kindness; he treated me and my brothers equally. But he was killed during the war. I still wonder why my father was killed and why my brother was injured.
"I can’t believe it happened. At night when I am asleep I dream and in my dreams they are still alive. But sadly when I wake up I don't find them here.
"I have spent many days feeling sad. I'm not sad now. I still feel sad but less than before. I enjoy being at Islamic Relief's project - I enjoy being with the other children who have also faced difficult moments.
My first session
“In the first session every student introduced themselves. I introduced myself to my new friends quickly. We drew – mostly about the dangerous situations we faced. Then, our teacher Ahmad asked us to explain our drawings. I felt shy about talking about my drawings at the beginning.
“But Mr Ahmad, encouraged me, and the students loved my drawing. After that I started explaining and talking about what I thought were the most difficult moments during the war. I talked about the death of my classmate and the destruction of our town. At the end of my talk the teacher thanked me and put my drawing on the wall.
“I feel more comfortable”
“The session today was good and I feel really happy about the activities we did. I returned home after talking about my day which I enjoyed with our teacher and my new friends.
“It made me feel more comfortable as I had heard hard stories told by the others.
“We draw what we witnessed during the war. I try to show the feelings of horror I felt. Like what happened when the electricity stopped, when there was no water, when flowers and trees were uprooted, when our neighbourhood was destroyed. Posting drawings on the wall helped us to see what everyone else was going through.
Discovering new things
“We also did relaxation exercises. Then, we talked about our positive and negative points. I am discovering new things about myself.
“I know that other children who were affected by the war and are also getting help to forget about what they saw. I was happy to know that children donated their pocket money to help us in Gaza. I love all the children who help Palestinian children and I pray they will not suffer and lose dear ones like we did. I hope all of them have peace not war.”